In search of a mod­ern Petro­n­ius

The News-Times - - OPINION - Marvin Cohen lives in Ham­den.

“Where have you gone, Petro­n­ius? “A na­tion turns its lonely eyes to you.” First, my apolo­gies to Si­mon and Garfunkel and the late great New York Yan­kee base­ball cham­pion, Joe DiMag­gio.

Petro­n­ius was a Ro­man sen­a­tor who was an ad­viser to the Ro­man emperor, Nero. Nero was the guy who burned down most of Rome so that he could build him­self a golden man­sion in the cen­ter of town. Nero di­vorced his first wife so that he could marry his sec­ond wife, and even­tu­ally had both killed, but this is a story for an­other time.

Petro­n­ius “wrote a book about a rich un­e­d­u­cated man that gave lav­ish din­ner par­ties. The host’s showi­ness and vul­gar­ity ex­posed his cul­tural in­fe­ri­or­ity. Petro­n­ius’ sto­ries and es­says were about the in­sin­cer­ity and vice among peo­ple of the high­est rank, and those who flour­ished dur­ing Nero’s reign.”

Petro­n­ius had em­pa­thy for the hu­man race. He once of­fered to ex­change him­self for a man con­demned to death by Nero, be­cause he knew that man was in­no­cent.

Many Ro­man sen­a­tors were ex­e­cuted by Nero when they ques­tioned his ac­tions. His over­throw by the sen­a­tors failed and more were ex­e­cuted. Petro­n­ius knew his days were num­bered, and so he took his own life. He left a let­ter to be read by Nero upon his death. Nero ex­pected great words of praise, but that was not what Petro­n­ius wrote. His let­ter plainly stated what a mur­der­ous, nar­cis­sis­tic ig­no­ra­mus he was.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not sug­gest­ing that our sen­a­to­rial lead­ers, es­pe­cially those of the con­ser­va­tive Repub­li­can per­sua­sion, do them­selves in, when deal­ing with our au­thor­i­tar­ian leader. I am rec­om­mend­ing that they speak “power to truth” as the say­ing goes, when deal­ing with the pres­i­dent.

Bi­par­ti­san co­op­er­a­tion and civil dis­course in gov­ern­ment has gone out the win­dow. It must be re­stored.

We need a bridge over trou­bled wa­ters. “The words of the prophets are (no longer) writ­ten on the sub­way walls, and ten­e­ment halls.” They are now writ­ten on Twit­ter, Face­book and the ubiq­ui­tous nightly news from both the left and right point of view. Be not afraid to speak up.

Rudy Gi­u­liani, Trump’s lawyer and ad­viser, men­tioned that there is “noth­ing wrong tak­ing ad­vice from the Rus­sians.” This state­ment makes me won­der if I spent two years in the in­fantry for noth­ing.

Getty Im­ages

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump speaks to the press along­side Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell.

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